Winter can be a great time for mountain biking. No hot sun wearing you down while you ride, less risk of running into any unfriendly critters out on the trail–just open air, cold breezes, and the occasional patch of ice and snow. Of course, you don’t want your feet to get cold while you’re riding in cold weather.
You could just throw some waterproof shoe covers on and hope for the best, or try to wedge your heavy winter hiking boots into your pedal cage of your bike instead…
Fortunately, there are actually several pairs of shoes designed just for keeping your toes toasty warm on those chilly rides.
Lake is the premium brand to choose if you absolutely need winter cycling shoes. Many brands don’t make them because they aren’t practical–the bulk and fit needed to keep your feet warm and dry don’t always work well with clips and straps on pedals. Lake’s MXZ 303 is the exception. These boots are built to lock in your body’s own heat and designed to be completely waterproof. They’re more expensive than some other brands, but they keep your feet warm and dry and you can add cleats for added grip.
Lake has other cold weather footwear at various price points, so if their ‘premium’ ones are out of your budget, you may find a similar pair that would work just as well. All of their winter shoes appear to have plenty of positive reviews, so take your pick of styles and see what works for you.
Shimano’s standard MTB shoes are well-known for their great grip and function. For winter, they’ve created something that’s fairly sleek, for what amounts to a technical riding boot. The Sh-MW81 features Gore-Tex insulated uppers for keeping body heat in while keeping moisture out with a reinforced sole for better power distribution to the bike than using a standard flat sole hiking boot.
The inside is fleece-lined for added warmth and the top of the shoe, which is cut higher than a standard MTB shoe, features a pull-string tightener to keep snow and ice from falling in through the top.
Most importantly, they can be used with any two-hole cleats for extra grip on those icy days. The holes for the cleats are recessed for easier walking, but you’re probably not going to do much hiking the mountain in the winter, at least not if you’re lucky.
If you don’t have a huge budget for winter mountain bike shoes (but you don’t want to just rough it with shoe covers and extra socks), Northwave has a reasonably priced pair of boots that might fit the bill. The Celsius GTX shoes feature a Gore-Tex membrane in the uppers to block out moisture and hold in heat. They have a hook-and-loop closure and a carbon-reinforced sole. A natural rubber sole helps grip the pedals, but you can also add two-holed cleats for extra grip if you want.
Not everyone will need gear to keep their feet warm in extreme temperatures, but if you plan on getting out on the trails or climbing the hills and mountains this winter, it’s worth investing in a pair. They’ll extend the riding season well into the colder months and keep your rides from turning miserable because of cold wet feet.
If you goal is to get good shoes for a great price make sure you check out this list of the lowest cost places to buy mtb shoes on the net.